Trump holds the fate of 800,000 young immigrants in his hands

China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-06 07:33

WASHINGTON - US President Donald Trump on Tuesday was expected to rescind a program shielding from deportation some immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children, throwing their fate to Congress, which would have six months to find a fix.

Sources familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity to outline the president's thinking ahead of the announcement, stressed that the decision was not final and that Trump could change his mind at the last minute.

The expected decision, with US Attorney General Jeff Sessions scheduled to hold a news conference at the Justice Department on Tuesday, would amount to a six-month extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA program, to give Congress time to devise an alternative.

DACA, created by president Barack Obama in 2012, protects nearly 800,000 young men and women, often called "Dreamers", from deportation and allows them to work in the US legally. The group is a small fraction of the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the country.

Trump holds the fate of 800,000 young immigrants in his hands

Under the envisioned Trump policy shift, Dreamers with valid work permits would be able to stay in the US until their permits - which are issued for two-year periods - expired, the sources said. At the same time, the Department of Homeland Security would not target Dreamers for deportation, according to one of the sources.

A middle ground

The move is an attempt by Trump to find a middle ground between Democrats who want the president to leave the Obama-era policy alone and conservatives who consider DACA a form of amnesty for illegal immigrants.

As a result, the president is likely to draw fire from both sides.

Nine Republican state attorneys general have said they would sue if Trump does not act to end the program, while a number of Democratic state attorneys general have threatened action if he does.

While Trump talked tough on DACA during his campaign, he has publicly expressed reluctance to deport Dreamers since taking office.

"We love Dreamers. We love everybody," Trump said on Friday.

The sources said Trump's six-month extension is aimed at pressuring Congress to protect the Dreamers through legislation.

There were some signs that the Congress might be willing to act, with several Republican lawmakers coming forward to express an interest in protecting the Dreamers.

"If President Trump makes this decision, we will work to find a legislative solution to their dilemma," Senator Lindsey Graham said.

Trump made a crackdown on illegal immigrants a centerpiece of his election campaign last year and has stepped up deportations since taking office. But business leaders said immigrants make important contributions and that ending the program would hit economic growth.

Reuters - Afp - Ap


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